Pants! What a daft, drafty idea to do a Skype interview half-naked

With lockdown extended, and as employer guidance this week is expected to state that working from home should continue for several months, technology to facilitate interviews, catch-ups and briefings is going nowhere fast.

This reliance on the likes of Zoom, Skype, Hangout and Teams brings contractors an unusual dynamic to liaising with recruiters, clients and other decision-makers that deserves some careful consideration, writes Matt Craven, founder and winning-work expert at The CV and Interview Advisors.

Wear your Y-fronts

It was only a few days ago that I read an amusing post from a contractor that had just done a video interview. Apparently, the recruiter insisted that the contractor wore a white shirt. However this contractor demonstrated their rebellious nature and opted to be naked from the waist down!

I’m sure the contractor was only kidding, if not I’m hopeful that they were only kidding. Just imagine; getting up to answer the phone or door would create an impression for the recruiter or client that could never be ‘un-seen.’ Not nice for them, or you for that matter.  

Even more comically perhaps, it was then a volley of 'Whys?' from ‘Mr. (no) Y-Fronts.’ For example, he said:

“Isn’t this a silly request I was given, as we are all working from home at the moment, anyway?!

Secondly, “why was my top attire so directly specified; am I proving that I own a white shirt?

And, “Why should video interviews require a formal shirt?”

Last but not least, my favourite that clearly should be rolled out and enforced by all corporate hirers during coronavirus lockdown, “Shouldn’t I be forced to wear underwear on a video interview?”

Silliness aside, my recommendation is to dress the same as you would for a virtual interview over the web, as you would in a physical, in-person interview. And yes, that includes wearing Y-fronts or your usual underwear!

Following on from this ‘brief’ episode, it occurred to me just how many other etiquette-related considerations contractors facing a virtual interview, or client briefing, should be thinking about.


First and foremost, be on time. The delay between clicking the Skype or Zoom link and when your camera and speaker are finally working as you want them can be a long few minutes. So log on early; make a ‘test call’ if need be and don’t be late.

It’s almost an everyday occurrence that I fire up a Zoom; call, and several minutes later I am greeted with a rather confused and panicked person, franticly (and sometimes noisily!) trying to figure out how the Zoom controls work. I’m not inclined to judge, but if I were an agent interviewing such a person for an important assignment, ‘dynamic must-hire candidate’ is NOT what I would jot down!

Your background

As well as your personal presentation and attire, your background (i.e. what’s behind you) will affect your personal brand. The obligatory bookcase seems to be a popular choice. This is certainly better than a view of your neighbour putting the washing out (so that’s where those pesky Y-fronts got to!) or your partner doing the washing up.

The well-stocked drink’s cabinet I was greeted with on a recent video conference call looked very tempting, but it’s probably a bad idea for a virtual job interview.

Look into my eyes...

When face-to-face, it’s generally a bad idea to stare at the other person’s chest! So bear in mind that if you look at the middle of your laptop screen, that’s exactly what you will be doing. To make eye contact, look directly into your camera.

Similarly, it’s bad form to bear down on people and this is precisely what happens if your laptop is on your desk and you are looking down at your screen. So either lower your chair, or place your laptop on some books or a biscuit tin, so long as the tin doesn’t create too much temptation during the interview! The effect you want is so that your laptop and your head are at the same height.

Selling yourself

Selling yourself in interview is a fundamental skill that contractors need to have to win work – in any sort of interview, whether it’s for a new role, a contract extension, or a first-time product pitch. But in these turbulent times, having a more robust plan than just a few bullet points to guide you is crucial!

With that in mind, I’ll be running a comprehensive ‘winning-work’ webinar this Thursday May 7th at 7.15pm – it’s specifically on how to recession proof your contractor business:

We will cover a range of topics including the steps you should be taking during covid-19 lockdown (and beyond) to future-proof your contractor business. We’ll also bn exploring the different mindsets that determine success or failure; how to develop ancillary, passive and recurring revenue streams outside of your core business and advanced and innovative sales / business development techniques. That will include thought-leadership, how to win direct business and how to develop more sustainable winning work strategies, plus the latest techniques on creating your Contractor CV, LinkedIn profile and other marketing materials you need to bag that next ideal opportunity. Until Thursday evening then -- and beyond please, keep safe, (and keep wearing underwear)!

Monday 4th May 2020
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Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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